In the town of Beaufort is a Progressive Association (BPA) that is just that – progressive.
The small group is made up of five very active members who are determined to see their town thrive and not become just another dot on a map when traffic will be diverted from town because of a by-pass.
Formed three years ago this group has achieved a number of positive events to put Beaufort in the spotlight but they have stayed true to their primary goal.
“Our primary goal was to create events, to help work with other community groups to make their existing events more of a destination,” said BPA President Liza Robinson.
“Some of the larger things we have worked with is with the Beaufort Angling Club to do the first fishing competition on the lake, setting up the Australia Day Market and more recently pitching to ABC TV for Back Roads,” she said.
“Personally, when I moved here I couldn’t believe that there wasn’t something permanent in Beaufort that reflected the inventor of Vegemite, Cyril Callister, who was born and raised in Chute, just outside of town.
“So basically it has become my private project originally, to create some type of thing in town whether it be a museum, café, we are not sure but I already have an agreement with Bega to have a food and wine event here, inspired by Vegemite, and they would sponsor it.”
With the recent Back Roads story, the Vegemite story has gone ‘ballistic’, according to Liza.
This included a number of businesses in town joining into the spirit of Australia Day on Saturday by theming their foods and premises around Vegemite.
“We have been working with the Rainbow Serpent Arts and Culture Foundation, they donated all the fabrics, stencils, paints and such and all the groups in town basically got together and made the decorations that you see around town today,” Liza said, while we looked around the market on Saturday.
“That gave us the idea that we have the market, we have the pool, the decorations and we went to the retailers to get some Vegemite inspired recipes going.”
Liza said she sees Beaufort as a ‘rough diamond’ and visitors would be surprised at what it has to offer.
“I don’t think a lot of people realise the potential we have here – an enormous historical factor, lots of beautiful historic sites; the lake is lovely and there are plans to rejuvenate that; obviously vegemite; great cafes and then of course we have some wonderful annual festivals like Lake Goldsmith Steam Rally (twice a year), the arts festival happens every June and of course we have a really strong wine history that is still relatively unknown,” she said.
“We are trying to stimulate more farmgate to try and create more of an artisan sector here, as well, and plans to rejuvenate the monthly market.”
Change in any town or city is inevitable and while there are factors in any community that want to stifle it and hang onto the past, Beaufort has to change.
The by-pass is a given, it will affect the town in lots of different ways and people like Liza and her small team think it will be a positive and shine the town in a new light.
“I can’t believe how many people we have spoken to, on the gate, who have come from Melbourne, Ballarat, Horsham…that have never been here before, that had seen the show and knew Rainbow was in the area and just decided to take a drive to Beaufort and poke around,” Liza added.